Controversy was nowhere to be seen today as the #ourmarch pride event through the streets of Auckland began fittingly beneath the statue of Queen Victoria in Albert Park.

Short speeches before the parade kicked off at 5pm made a call to "stamp our feet and be heard today" as thousands of the LGBTQ+ community gathered to walk through the streets of Auckland CBD.

The event is a replacement of sorts for the traditional Pride Parade down Ponsonby Rd which caused controversy last year after asking police not to attend in uniforms.

Participants gather in Albert Park ahead of #ourmarch. The march is being held in place of the Pride Parade this year. Photo / Tom Dillane
Participants gather in Albert Park ahead of #ourmarch. The march is being held in place of the Pride Parade this year. Photo / Tom Dillane

Sponsors had returned to #ourmarch with a large Spark banner carried in the parade, among hundreds of rainbow flags.

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Many major sponsors had pulled out of the Ponsonby Rd parade in support of the police, forcing the traditional parade scheduled for February 19 to be cancelled.

The parade followed the Auckland Central graduation route, beginning Albert Park as a nod to LGBTQ+ history in Tāmaki Makaurau, as the site of the first gay liberation protest in 1972.

The march proceeded down Victoria Street, up Queen St to Aotea Square, and culminated in a celebration in Myers Park that will run until 9pm.

"Stand up, fight back" and "Whose streets? Our streets" the crowd chanted as they walked along Queen St, the majority of it closed off for the event.

"People are more important than uniforms right," Kay Parish said. "We need this parade more than ever this year."

Leo, 62, said he was marching because it was "supporting what's good for Auckland, what's good for New Zealand".

"You're going the wrong way," one woman said to passersby. But her friend quickly corrected her laughing: "You can go anyway you want in this march."

Our March heads down Victoria St. Photo / Tom Dillane
Our March heads down Victoria St. Photo / Tom Dillane

Martin Dickson, 51, said it was a "day to reclaim the space".

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"It's just fun. It's us getting together, diversity of people. Not walking down the street and thinking what that group of guys across the road are going to do, am I safe? This is a celebration," he said.

One woman, Rach, walking the parade said she would love to say who she is but feels restricted by her work.

"I think it's a real shame the police weren't able to compromise and come to the table with the original parade. I respect democracy and the rights of others," she said.

Relaxing in Myers Park following the parade Auckland Pride chair Cissy Rock said the event had been a "marvellous" success.

"Everyone who wants to has come out and been involved," Rock said.

"And 2000 plus people walking down the street, watching, clapping and cheering. No issues and so many people to thank. This is about a whole community coming together and putting this on for each other."